The optimism of will

  • Ruth Levitas


Will Hutton’s book The State We’re In, published in January 1995, advocated stakeholding as an antidote to the divisive effects of unfettered markets, and the recipe for social cohesion and inclusion. It far outsold the Borrie and Rowntree Reports. By 1997, Social Justice had sold 12400 copies, and Rowntree just over 3000. Sales of The State We’re In stood at 235 000. The softback edition was number 77 in a ranking of books first published in paperback in 1996; no other work of politics, economics, sociology or social policy was in the top hundred. In that year alone, its sales neared 140 000. The sequel, The State To Come, a much shorter book published at the start of the election campaign, sold over 35000 copies in four months. Anger, optimism about the possibility of diagnosis and cure within capitalism, and accessibility of style helped Hutton capture and shape the mood of the mid 1990s. His previous influence as a journalist and broadcaster, and from 1996 as Editor of the Observer, increased dramatically. Even the rock band Radiohead claimed Hutton’s inspiration for their 1997 release OK Computer. The Tory ideologue David Willetts described him as ‘today’s most influential and widely quoted radical thinker’.


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Copyright information

© Ruth Levitas 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Levitas
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BristolEngland

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